Canoeing down the Mercey River in Keji Park
While in Nova Scotia, I was blessed to visit the lovely Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site (http://www.novascotia.com/see-do/attractions/kejimkujik-national-park-and-national-historic-site/1386) , a beautiful forestland carved by the last glaciers. Three hundred year old trees tower above the forest floor as water rushes along the Mersey River near Jake’s Landing where we headed for a canoe ride.
“Kejimkujik means fairy sprits,” Paul LaLonde of the Canada Parks Service said. Named by the Migmaw Indians that lived here years ago, the park is filled with 381 square kilometers and is located in the Atlantic Coastal Uplands plains.
It was Cody Whynot and Karlene Hauer of Whynot Adventures (http://whynotadventure.ca/) that set up our canoe ride down the Mersey. This young couple offers canoe and bike rentals and also boat/camping adventures into the back acres of Keji Park. I took up one paddle, but it was really Cody that guided and pushed the canoe along the clear waters of the Mersey River.
Since this trip for travel writers was titled Lighthouses and Legends, Cody shared a legend of Jim Charles during the hour long canoe ride that fellow writer Lynne and I took. “Jim Charles in the 1890’s was a Migmaw guide. He was so good he could call in a moose,” Cody said adding that the moose population has now moved from the area.
“The rich outfitters hired Jim Charles,” he continued. Jim was an Indian guide that liked his liquor and his wife Lizzie was not happy with his drinking. One day Jim showed up at the local pub with a sack of gold. Curious about where he got the gold others tried to track him, but Cody said Jim was too wily and knew when he was being tracked, he led his followers out to the sly infested swamps and they never found the gold. One day Jim and Lizzie got into a huge fight and Jim took off for the tavern. Already mad, when a man provoked him, he killed him in a knife fight and ran off and hid in a rock cave until a judge that was also a client of Jim’s acquitted him. Superstitious that this was a sign he should stay away from the gold, Jim never went back and the gold was lost forever. Legend says it was in the river or rock, but no one will ever know for sure.
Riding down the river listening to stories and hearing about the camping options like the Yurk and cabin options was a great way to spend the day. I would love to stay a weekend and immerse myself in the beauty of the Keji backwoods someday!